When you think about travelling to Africa, Mozambique probably does not spring to mind. However, the country has been working hard the last few years to attract more tourists and is absolutely worth a visit. Go there now, before it is brimming with tourists.
Why visit Mozambique?
To discover the hidden gem of Africa.
Mozambique has a lot to offer. It is relatively unknown, so you can really get a taste of the authentic Africa here. The country has a rich colonial past and does not yet know mass tourism.
- .The capital Maputo
- Tofo: Apparently the best place in the world for whale shark spotting. And many large manta rays swim just off-shore.
- Bazaruto Archipelago National Park: This archipelago consists of several large islands off the coast of Vilanculos. Perfect for a beach holiday.
- Quirimbas Archipelago: 32 islands with a high Bounty content.
- Limpopo National Park: This national park borders the Kruger Park in South Africa. It is not as busy here, and yet there is a lot of wildlife to see.
- Nissa Game Reserve: This reserve is nearly twice as big as the Kruger Park and is home to the largest concentration of wildlife in Mozambique. Bonus: there are hardly any tourists. The park is only open to visitors from June to (and including) November.
- Gorongoso National Park: This park was in the 60s and 70s one of the most popular and most beautiful parks of the whole of southern Africa. Unfortunately, it suffered badly in the civil war. Things are looking up however, and it is a real paradise for bird spotters.
- Ilha de Moçambique is an island just off the coast. It is of major historical importance, and therefore part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. There are many ruins of forts and religious buildings influenced by local and Portuguese architecture.
- Xai-Xai: This is the location of a large salt water lake which is connected to the sea by an underground tunnel. It is the perfect location for divers and big-game fishing.
Relax here on one of the fabulous beaches after your safari or tour of southern Africa
Mozambique has a 2500km coastline full of exotic, snow-white beaches surrounded by palm trees. The warm turquoise water is popular for diving and snorkelling because of the coral reefs. It is also the perfect place to swim with whale sharks, manta rays, dolphins and dugong (a type of sea cow).
Luxurious beach holiday in Mozambique
Machangulo Beach Lodge
After our safari in Sabi Sands in South Africa, we travelled on to enjoy a few days at one of the exotic beaches in Mozambique. From Sabi Sands, we drove straight through Mozambique to the capital of Maputo. You need about 8 hours for this 400-kilometre drive.
Of course, you can also fly to Maputo, but we enjoyed the trip as we got a good sense of the country this way. There was a very particular atmosphere, especially at the border.
From Maputo, a speedboat took us to the tip of the peninsula in an hour. And there, a true fairy tale was waiting for us.
We spotted an enormous sand dune in the distance, overgrown with high bushes. The thatched roofs of the lodges could just be spotted between the thicket.
Just before our speedboat arrived on the beach, we saw a number of local ladies in traditional clothing come onto the beach. They stepped into the sea and carried our suitcases on their heads towards our residence for the next two days. We jumped from the boat and followed them towards paradise.
As we were travelling with ten people (we and our children, my sister and her family, and our parents), we received an upgrade to the private villa with butler. Five separate huts for sleeping, a large hut where our private chef conjured up the most wonderful delicacies, a swimming pool and a stretch of beach that was off-limits to other guests. Paradise found!
Machangulo beach lodge is a small-scale beach hotel surrounded by nature reserves, both above and below the water. It is therefore the perfect place for a beach vacation in Mozambique.
The hotel has seven ocean view rooms, 2 villas for small groups and a beach forest area. We stayed in the latter part, and enjoyed the services of our private butler, private chef and oodles of privacy. Apparently, King Willem-Alexander and his wife Maxima (of the Netherlands) stayed here a number of times while checking the progress of their villa on Machangulo.
The main building and restaurant are located at the highest point of the dune. From here, you have a wonderful view over Hell’s Gate. The bit of ocean that you can see from here has a dangerous undertow, many under water rocks and a lot of sharks, hence the name.
The hotel has a small spa where you can enjoy facial treatments, massages and more. What could be more relaxing that enjoying a massage with the sound of rolling waves in the background?
If you’ve had enough of sunbathing and snorkelling, there are a number of other activities available from the hotel.
Grandad, sons-in-law and grandsons went fishing together. Accompanied by a guide and a captain, they went out on a speedboat. The sea is rather choppy, so be sure to get some medication against sea sickness. They had to come back sooner than planned as one of them was too nauseous, but they all posed proudly with their catch. Our chef was ready and waiting, and we enjoyed the delicious, super-fresh tuna that evening.
The area really lends itself for a trip in a kayak. You can enter the mangroves, or you can kayak towards the coral reefs. With a bit of luck, you’ll meet dolphins on the way.
Inhaca Island and Santa Maria Village
Scientists are convinced this island used to be part of the mainland and that the bay was formed only later because of the rising sea levels. In 1500 Vasco da Gama landed here and not much later a small trading post was established.
Leave for the island in the morning on a speedboat, visit the village and enjoy a delicious lunch in a local restaurant.
You always have to return to Maputo one day before your flight because of the tides. We only had a late-evening flight the next day, and so had nearly a full day to explore Maputo.
Maputo in short.
Maputo is the capital of Mozambique and has about 1,2 million inhabitants. Maputo Bay was discovered by the Portuguese in 1544. The Dutch established a trade post here in 1721, but trading with the locals proved difficult. In the meantime, the Austrians, British and French also tried to get a foothold here.
In 1976, Mozambique gained its independence, and the Portuguese left. The city spiralled into disrepair at first, but a growing middle class ensured that Maputo is climbing back up.
Staying in Maputo
The hotel is housed in a beautiful old building from the 1920s. It has been the most prestigious hotel of the city since that time. It has a stately entrance and beautiful rooms in colonial style. There is a large outdoor pool (which I personally was not a fan of) and a spa. It is situated in a good location for exploring the city and is barely seven kilometres from the airport.
The traffic in Maputo was chaotic. We had a chauffeur who speedily brought us past the highlights of Maputo.
Natural History Museum
The museum is housed in a beautiful 16th-century building in Portuguese late-gothic style. There is a large collection of stuffed animals (some of them from questionable quality). The horns on display are fake as the real ones were stolen at one point. Do not forget to wander around the garden too. There are also a lot of artefacts of tribes from times long gone by.
Fortaleza da Nossa Senhora da Conceicao
This Portuguese fort from 1787 is worth a short visit. The cosy green inner courtyard is full of canons. It was destroyed and rebuilt a number of times throughout history. There are often interesting art exhibitions.
This house of iron was designed by Gustave Eiffel, the man who also designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris (link), for the governor. Eiffel did not, however, take the hot weather into consideration. The iron made the building extremely hot on the inside, which mean that in the end, no-one ever lived here.
This station dating to 1910 gives you a glimpse of the prosperous Lourenço Marques (the old name of Maputo). The beautiful dome was designed by Gustave Eiffel (or one of his assistants, there is some doubt). There is a small museum behind the station.
Feima Art Craft Market
If you are looking for nice souvenirs, be sure to visit this artisan market. You will find lots of stalls with locally made souvenirs.
I would not take a detour to visit Maputo, but if you’re here anyway, you can enjoy yourself for a day. Remember that Mozambique is the perfect place to enjoy a beach holiday after a safari or trip through southern Africa.
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